Switch Play


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  • Children (ages 6-12) icon
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  • English
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  • Obesity Prevention
  • Personal health practices and coping skills
  • Physical Activity
  • Social environments

Determinants of Health: Personal health practices and coping skills, Social environments



The experimental intervention took place over one school year (10 months) at low socioeconomic (SES) area schools in Australia. The primary aims were to prevent weight gain, reduce screen time, and maintain physical activity levels among ten-year-old students. Secondary objectives were to increase children’s enjoyment of physical activity, and to improve movement skills related to childhood games and sports.

Components were additional the standard curriculum, and consisted of behaviour modification alone; fundamental movement skills alone, and a combination of Behavioural Modification (BM) and Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS). The intervention consisted of 19 lessons (38 for the combined group), and was delivered in the school setting (classroom/outdoors) by trained physical education teachers supported by a detailed curriculum.

Both post-intervention and 12-year follow-up data show that the children who were exposed to both the BMS/FMS intervention were significantly less likely to be overweight. There were different results for boys and girls in relation to their overall enjoyment of and participation in Physical Activity (PA), and their fundamental movement skills. (Source a: Salmon, Ball et al, 2008).

The intervention was tested again, under real-life conditions, as Switch-2-Activity, in fifteen schools from disadvantaged areas in Melbourne, with 9-12 year old children. The repeated intervention was abbreviated and the materials modified during implementation by the teachers. The intervention did not have any significant effect on children’s physical activity levels, although self-reported screen time for boys was slightly reduced and self-efficacy increased. (Source: Salmon et al, 2010)


The Switch-Play experimental intervention was delivered in three low SES government schools in Melbourne, with children randomized by class to one of the four conditions: usual curriculum; behaviour modification; fundamental movement skills; combined BM and FMS.

Data were collected at baseline, at 6 months and at 12-month follow-up, and show positive anthropometric effects. Specifically, children in the combined (both behaviour modification and movement skills) group had a significantly lower BM than the control (on average, – 1.88 BMI units less), maintained at 12 months. Children in this group also were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese. The intervention was not effective to reduce screen behaviours. As summarized by the authors:
this study found favourable outcomes for children’s BMI and weight status. On average, between baseline and post intervention, and including
6- and 12-month follow-up data, children in the combined BM/FMS group recorded significantly lower BMI compared with children in the control group. These differences were strengthened with the inclusion of food-frequency and physical activity data across all the time points. Adjusted analyses also found that children in the BM/FMS group were more than 60% less likely to be overweight or obese on average over time (baseline and post intervention, and over the four time points) compared with those in the control group. p. 609

There were significant effects for physical activity between control and both the BM and the FMS groups. Gender significantly moderated the amount and type of physical activity and fundamental movement skills effects. There were significant intervention effects on unadjusted BMI among girls in the FMS and BM/FMS group compared with controls. (Source: Salmon, Ball et al, 2008)

The Switch-2 Activity research-to-practice study examined intervention effectiveness in a randomized control trial with 9-12 year old children in 15 schools in low SES areas of Melbourne, Australia. Anthropometric measures were not taken. Intervention effect was assessed using baseline and post-intervention surveys, with children self-reporting screen time, physical activity, self-efficacy, and behavioural capability. Teachers reported on implementation of the adapted curriculum in a process evaluation. There intervention had no effect on physical activity for either boys or girls. The intervention had no significant effects on screen time (TV viewing, computer use, electronic games). Gender again significantly moderated intervention effect on screen time, with a small favourable effect for boys on week-end screen time. There were positive intervention effects on self-efficacy and behavioural capability related to TV viewing. (Source: Salmon et al, 2010)

Primary Source Document

J Salmon, K Ball, C Hume, M Booth, D Crawford, Outcomes of a group-randomized trial to prevent excess weight gain, reduce screen behaviours and promote physical activity in 10-year-old children: Switch-play. International Journal of Obesity, 32(4), 601-612.

Contact information of developer(s) and/or implementer(s)

Jo Salmon and colleagues at Deakin University https://www.deakin.edu.au/profiles/jo-salmon

Intervention Focus


Health Issue(s) that is/are addressed by the Intervention

Health Promotion

  • Physical Activity
  • Obesity Prevention

Risk Reduction

  • Other

Specific Activities of the Intervention

  • Curriculum changes in school

Priority/Target Population for Intervention Delivery

Life Stage

  • Children (age 6-12 years)


Educational Settings

  • Elementary school

Community Setting

  • Home
  • Other


Outcomes and Impact Chart
Level of ImpactDescription of OutcomeEquity Focus
Individual Level

Positive outcomes for BMI and weight status - significantly lower BMI in children in both intervention arms compared to controls; children in combined BM/FMS group 60% less likely to be obese or overweight over time.

Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
Individual Level

Some gender differences: Gender significant moderator for, enjoyment of physical activity; significant effects on PA for both genders in BM group, and for boys in FMS and combined groups.

Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
Individual Level

No intervention effect in reducing screen behaviours. No intervention effects on computer use or electronic games.

Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.
Individual Level

The BM group watched more television per week (negative impact), had more movement counts per day, and spent more time engaged in vigorous PA than the control. Impacts were found at post-test and 12-month follow-up.

Outcomes are reported for people living in conditions of disadvantage, and are not compared to people living in more advantaged conditions.


Implementation History

  • Multiple implementations - Different settings/populations/providers - The intervention showed significant adaptability as it has been implemented in different settings or with different populations or by different provider(s). This can include multiple implementations during the same time period. Each implementation of the intervention must have been substantially the same and must have demonstrated positive results for the primary objectives of the intervention.

Expertise Required for Implementation within the Context of the Intervention

  • Requires specialzed skills that are rarely accessible within the context - The intervention requires the participation of personnel with advanced skills (e.g. medical doctors, epidemiologists, social workers) and that are rarely accessible within the intervention context.

Are there supports available for implementation


Are there resources and/or products associated with the interventions